Five years ago, few people would have put trying Slovenian food on their bucket list.
Nestled between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, the tiny country of two million people which takes just three hours to drive across, wasn’t on the culinary map.
But one female chef has thrust the Central European nation into the global limelight with her visionary gastronomy.
“Voters (were) seduced by the stunning location, the charm of the restaurant and its service, but most of all by the originality, subtlety and sophistication of the food,” William Drew, group editor of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, tells CNN.
“She has almost single-handedly drawn attention to her region, its agro-economy, wine, culture and sheer beauty.”
With the Michelin Guide not yet in Slovenia, it was the highest culinary accolade Roš could bring to her nation.
Who is Ana Roš?
A self-taught chef, Roš helms Hiša Franko (meaning Frank’s House) inn and restaurant in an Alpine corner of the Soca Valley, just a few miles from the Italian border.
Her menu has been praised for its eclectic, original interpretations of Slovenian cuisine – traditionally, a melting pot of influences from neighbors such as Italy and Austria.
For the past 15 years, the 44-year-old has worked to elevate her country as a gastronomic destination.
Her achievements are all the more remarkable considering the male-dominated profession she is working in: while there are 125 male chefs with three Michelin stars, just five women have held the same accolade (they are all in Europe).
Furthermore, women in top kitchen positions tend to earn 28% less than men, a Glassdoor report claimed last year.
But perhaps Roš has an advantage.
When it comes to gender equality, Slovenia is the highest ranked country in the EU and 8th best in the world, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016.